Baghdad, (IANS) Iraqi security forces and allied militias on Wednesday clashed with Islamic State (IS) militants across Iraq, as the extremist militants gained ground in Salahudin province, security sources said.
In Iraq’s northern central province of Salahudin, IS militants took control of Tal Abu Jrad area east of the battleground town of Baiji, some 200 km north of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, after days of heavy clashes with the security forces and allied militias, a security source told Xinhua news agency.
The battles in the area left at least one police officer and four policemen dead, the source said.
Another setback in the day for the security forces occurred in the partially IS-held town of Baiji when the IS militants pushed back the security forces and allied militias from their positions in three neighbourhoods in central the town, the source added.
A source from the Hashd Shaabi militias told Xinhua that up to 30 IS militants were killed in the clashes in Baiji, which erupted on Tuesday night.
Since March 2, the security forces backed by dozens of thousands of allied Shia and Sunni militias have been involved in Iraq’s biggest offensive to recapture the northern part of Salahudin province, including Tikrit and other key towns and villages, from IS militants.
In Iraq’s western province of Anbar, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a security checkpoint and blew it up east of the IS-seized town of Garma, just east of the city of Fallujah, which itself is located some 50 km west of Baghdad, leaving four soldiers dead and seven others wounded, a provincial security source told Xinhua.
Seven more federal policemen were killed and eight others wounded in a mortar barrage on their base at a village east of Garma, the source said.
Meanwhile, another mortar attack by the IS militants on the town of Ameriyat al-Fallujah, some 40 km west of Baghdad, killed five policemen and government-backed Sunni paramilitary members known as Sahwa, or Awakening Council, and wounded six others, the source said.
Also in the province, fierce clashes erupted between the IS militants and Iraqi soldiers backed by Hashd Shaabi militiamen in a village in south of the town of Baghdadi, some 200 km northwest of Baghdad, leaving six soldiers and militiamen killed and nine others wounded, another provincial security source told Xinhua.
During the battle in Baghdadi, US-led coalition warplanes intervened and pounded the positions of the IS militants, killing at least 13 of the militants, the source said.
Separately, the airstrikes on an IS headquarters at a village near the town of Gwer, in southeast of the IS-held city of Mosul, killed seven militants and wounded nine others, along with destroying their base, said Hokar al-Jaf, a security official of the Kurdish Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The security situation in Iraq has drastically deteriorated since June last year, when bloody clashes broke out between Iraqi security forces and the IS.